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Scott's across-the-board teacher pay faces hurdle in Weatherford and House

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for $480 million in pay increases for teachers will have a tough test in the Florida House.

The problem is how Scott wants to distribute the pay increase: across the board, everyone gets it.

House leaders, led by Speaker Will Weatherford, prefer the raises to be distributed in a method that recognizes performance.

“We applaud the governor’s efforts to increase money in education funding,” Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told Naked Politics on Wednesday. “That being said, the method of the increase is just as important. We are supportive of merit pay.”

Specifically, the merit pay method outlined in SB 736, which lawmakers passed in 2011 in the first two weeks of a tea party infused session and was the first bill that Scott ever signed. It eliminated teacher tenure while creating a system that evaluated teachers based on student test scores. It tied pay to performance for new teachers. The Florida Education Association has sued, claiming the bill eliminates the right for teachers to collectively bargain.

Although Scott seems to have backed away from that law with his insistence that all teachers get an across the board increase, Weatherford is holding firm, saying the compensation system in SB 736 is a good one and should be followed.

“Where the debate in the how will be how do we do it, how do we increase teacher pay,” Weatherford said. “Part of it should be performance.”